Karen Maciolek Salb was born in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, and moved to Albuquerque in 1954 when her father took a position with Sandia Corporation. The oldest of five children Karen began her dancing career with Natalie Krasnoff, a Russian born and trained ballerina. Karen would remain at the Krasnoff School of Fine Arts until graduation from high school gaining experience as a featured dancer with the New Mexico Ballet Guild, Mozart’s Fine Arts Club, Albuquerque Light Opera, and Santa Fe Opera.
She also trained in tap and jazz studying with notable instructors including Judith Pilgrim (Gower Champions dance partner in New York). Grace Doty and Alan Howard from Ballet Rousse de Monte Carlo. Karen participated in ballroom training and competition and earned a Silver and Bronze Medal at the National Ballroom Competition as a high school student.
After graduation from high school, Karen attended Eastern New Mexico University majoring in Physical Education and minoring in dance. During this time, Karen choreographed the university’s annual music extravaganza “Swannee”, several musicals, and was a lead dancer and temporary dance instructor for the university.
In 1968 Karen represented Potales in the Miss New Mexico pageant. She represented New Mexico in the Miss America Pageant and received the Miss Congeniality Award. Rounding out Karen’s college career, Karen was awarded the Presidents Award, Who’s Who’s in American Universities and Colleges, and Outstanding Young Women in America.
In 1970 Karen open the Maciolek School Dance in Hobbs while she was attending classes at Eastern New Mexico University. She married Thomas Salb that year. Tom was finishing a Master’s Degree in Science at Eastern New Mexico University. When Tom began working on his Doctorate Degree at Texas Tech University, Karen became a soloist with the Lubbock Civic Ballet Company and toured with the company.
Along with ballet, tap, and jazz, Karen added gymnastics classes and a competition team. The current studio was built in 1978, Irish tap and Irish teams, hip-hop, and guest teachers were added to the curriculum. Today the studio trains over 500 students yearly, the Maciolek Fine Arts Scholarship Trust has given over $75,000 in scholarships, aided families, and funded professional Master classes. Trips to New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Biloxi, and Branson allow dancers professional experiences.
Karen has choreographed over 30 musicals, has been a gueset speaker for school programs, and currently does school residencies in the Hobbs School system. One of Karen’s recipes is published in the Miss America Cookbook and in 1991 was a special guest on the Oprah Winfrey show.
The Maciolek School of Dance enters it’s 45th year turning over 11,000 Lea County children in dance. Many of Karen’s students have gone on to be doctors, lawyers, professional dancers, singers, costume designers, dance teachers, marketing directors, nationally ranked athletes, mothers, and the list goes on. Karen, her staff at the studio, and her family continue to work to get Hobbs and Lea County excellent training in the fine arts through dance.